It’s been a busy December! Here’s some video highlights from the Axia Financial holiday party at the Westin Bellevue. They were a really fun group (you’ll see!). The Axia banquet was very upscale. (How could it not be, at a highrise hotel in the heart of downtown Bellevue?)
I was booked through Tim Foley with Andy Mirkovich Productions, and Tim is a consummate pro. I’d highly recommend him for anyone planning an important event. Both times I’ve worked with him recently he has surprised me by being on site before I arrived, working with the client to make sure everything was running smoothly. This is really rare; most entertainment agents book the performer, handle the contract, and send out the check, but aren’t at the actual event.
This was a big group of 200-300 people in a large banquet room. It’s important for everyone to be able to see and hear to enjoy a performance, and one glance at the video will show you why these are important.
There are three basic production elements for a successful show:
- a quality sound system
- decent stage lighting
- a stage or platform
Sound. This evening I was able to plug into the DJ’s sound system. (Thanks Dave, also an Axia employee!) If he hadn’t had his system set up or hooking in was impractical, I have my own professional speakers/stands/mixer available to set up.
Lighting. I generally bring my own sound and lights and have them in my car even if I’m planning on using the venue’s sound and lights.
Typically I’ll discuss the room setup initially with the client when arranging the performance. If I’m not familiar with the venue, I will call and talk with the banquet coordinator. I check out their website, looking for photos or possibly video of the space. After years of performing in literally thousands of different venues from gymnasiums to convention centers
Another important question to ask the catering staff that evening is, after arriving and setting up, is, "What will the room lighting be this evening?" I guarantee it’s not what you see during setup! Invariably the lighting is dimmed to a romantic level to show off the candle centerpieces and, occasionally, hide the food. (kidding!)
Think of any play, theatrical production, or comedy club you’ve been to. The performer is always illuminated, right? So why don’t venues have a bank of spotlights on dimmers focused where they always set the platform? I bring my own and they really make a difference. They’re small, portable, on dimmers, and can accept gels (for coloring the light). They also have
barn doors for shaping the beam output to minimize light spilling outside of the "stage" area… and your guests’ eyes!
Staging. A stage or platform helps people several tables back see what’s happening. Personally, I like a minimum 8′ deep by 12′ wide. The height will depend a bit on how far back people are seated. I like steps at the front rather than the side, but either one works. If the platform is only eight inches off the floor, you can probably skip steps altogether.
My final word of wisdom is to allow extra time for travel and parking during the holidays. Trying to find a parking space anywhere near the Bellevue Square on the Saturday night before Christmas is madness! Then, negotiating an elevator (or two) with equipment is tricky.